January 2, 2013
Jesse Tyler Ferguson of ABC's hit comedy "Modern Family" joined Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon to urge supporters across the state today to make their voices heard on Illinois' marriage equality bill.
"Marriage equality has widespread support in Illinois and is gaining momentum nationwide because more people recognize the importance the institution plays in protecting and recognizing families," said Simon. "Passing a marriage equality bill in Illinois is the right thing to do and we should do it now."
Joined by advocates and allies, Simon launched two days of action in support of marriage equality with Ferguson, his fiancé Justin Mikita, state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and state Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago) during a press conference at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago on Wednesday morning.
"Illinois believes in basic fairness," Rep. Harris said. "Whether you are from Chicago like I am, or Carbondale like Lt. Governor Simon, treating all families with equal respect under the law is a fundamental American value."
Simon urged Illinoisans to call for lawmakers to pass the marriage equality bill during the January legislative session by e-mail and phone and to post words of support on their representatives' Facebook and Twitter accounts, using the hash tag #ILequality.
Advocates also encouraged capitol visitors to don bow ties on Thursday in support of Bow Tie Lobby Day in Springfield, when a marriage equality bill could be called for a vote.
"Justin and I are thrilled to be participating in Springfield's Bow Tie Lobby Day," Ferguson said. "Drawing attention to the importance of marriage equality at this level is exactly why we developed Tie The Knot."
Appearing on ABC 7's Windy City LIVE, Ferguson announced he and Mikita plan a summer wedding. Ferguson portrays Mitchell Pritchett, an openly gay father, on "Modern Family," which has earned him three Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Simon, Ferguson and Mikita this afternoon will tour The Tie Bar, a Naperville-based company which sells the Tie the Knot bow ties.
If approved, Illinois would become the 10th state to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.